Skip to main content

Full text of "Kacike Journal"

See other formats

VVV J«(f k t . 9 > < I 

Journal of Carihbean Amerindian History and Anthropology' 

KACIKE: Journal of Caribbean Amerindian History and Anthropology ISSN 1562-5028 
Special Issue edited by Lynne Guitar 

Documenting the Myth of Tamo Extinction 

Dr. Lynne Guitar 

I am an historian and anthropologist. My 
interests are the Dominican people and 
their culture. For my doctoral dissertation, 
I studied how this fascinating culture 
began to develop. In the process of 
researching my dissertation, I discovered 
many little studied documents. I am going 
to share some of them with you today. I 
am going to show you how, using 
historical and anthropological methods, I 
ask questions of documents, of the 
people who left us those documents, and 
of the particular situations under which 
they wrote the documents — in this way I 
discovered the origins of many of 
Hispaniola's myths. We are going to start 
with something very familiar. 

For the past 510 years, because of 
the "discovery" of Hispaniola and its 
colonization by Spaniards, residents of 
today's Dominican Republic have 
maintained an image of themselves as 
"Spaniards." Spanish heroes have been 
glorified in all aspects of Dominican 
history that are taught from pre- 
Kindergarten through the university level, 
and Spanish cultural elements have been 
glorified in Dominican architecture, 
paintings, and literature. The recognized 
Native Indian elements in modern 
Dominican identity, history, and culture 

are relegated to a few items of food and 
"common" things used by campesinos, to 
a few dozen Tamo words and phrases, 
and to a plethora of Tamo place names. 
There is also a confusing range of 
supposedly Indian skin colors, such as 
"indio claro" and "indio oscuro," that have 
little, if anything, to do with bloodlines. 
The color categories have been in 
common use since the Trujillo Era, when 
the concept was re-initiated as part of the 
dictator's program to "Dominicanize" the 
country— to distinguish Dominicans from 

As in other Latin American 

countries that were once Spanish 
colonies, the island's indigenous peoples, 
the Tamos, are set upon a pedestal of the 
past — they are identified as frozen in a 
particular pre-Columbian and early 
Columbian time frame and highly admired 
as part of the island's unique past. As in 
other Latin American countries, to be 
Indian in the present Dominican era 
means to be backward, rustic, gullible, or 
even feeble minded. Dominicans deny 
that Tamos survived the Spanish 
conquest, deny that they had the oh-so- 
human ability to change and adapt to new 
situations like the arrival of strangers. 

Dr. Lvnne Guitar- Documenting the Myth of Taino Extinction - 

Figure 1 

T 7 ^ 

This is a Taino cave guardian sculpture in 
today's Los Haitses National Park. Images 
like these, frozen in stone, frozen in time, 
are the most vivid Taino images in the 

minds of most people today. 

Yet the Tafnos whom Christopher 
Columbus discovered in the Bahamas, on 
Cuba, and on Hispaniola during his first 
voyage were eager to exchange foods, 
drinking water, parrots, and gilded jewelry 
for the beads, little mirrors, and red hats 
that Columbus had brought as trade 
goods. They also exchanged something 
else — their genes. 

I jokingly ask my students, noting 
first that they do not need advanced math 
nor psychic powers to figure it out: "When 
were the first mestizos born?" The 

Figure 2 

answer, easy to compute, is nine months 
after Columbus's ships landed in the 

Can you imagine any sailors of any 
nation or era, after a month at sea, not 
taking advantage of a welcoming party 
that includes "naked" women with, 
apparently, none of the sexual 
prohibitions that were so integral a part of 
the lives of Catholic Spaniards? Those 
were two of the first myths that arose 
about the Tafnos, that they went naked 
and that they had no sexual prohibitions. 

Illustration, Histoire Naturelle 
des Indes: The Drake 
Manuscript in the Pierpont 

Morgan Library. 

© 2002, Lynne Guitar 
KACIKE: The Journal of Caribbean Amerindian History and Anthropology 

Columbus and all the other 
chroniclers of the era wrote that the 
Indians went naked. They often added 
that the Indians did not cover their 
"shameful parts." 

Think about the term "naked." It's a 
Eurocentric term that means not to be 
"dressed," not to be covered with cloth. 
After describing the Tamos' nakedness, 
the Spanish chroniclers went on to 
describe the Tamos' elaborate arm and 
leg bands, tattoos and painted 
adornments, headdresses, necklaces, 
earrings, and bracelets, the caciques' 
(chiefs') elaborate belts, masks, and 
feathered capes, and the naguas~f\ne\y 
woven cotton "skirts"— that some of the 
Tamo women wore. That's a lot of 
clothing and accoutrements for a 
supposedly naked people! (The women's 
naguas, by the way, were more loincloths 
than skirts, for they did not hide the 
women's buttocks and were not meant to 
hide their pubic areas, either. Like today's 
Western women wear wedding bands, 
the naguas indicated that the women who 
wore them were married, and the nobler a 
woman was, the longer was the nagua 
that she wore.) 

Like the concept of nakedness, the 
chroniclers' reports that the Tamos did 
not cover their shameful parts was 
ethnocentric and specific to European 
society, for "parts" such as breasts, 
buttocks, and pubic regions are not 
universally shameful. What was shameful 
to the Tamos? The chroniclers didn't say 
because they didn't know, but modern- 
day anthropologists have noted that 
women from distantly related indigenous 
tribes of the Amazon and Orinoco river 
valleys find it shameful to be seen in 
public without their arm and leg bands, 
and the men, who pull their foreskins 
forward and tie the sheaths closed with 

twine, would be dreadfully ashamed if the 
twine were to slip off in public. 

The belief that the Tamos had no 
sexual prohibitions cost at least 39 
Spaniards their lives. Columbus had to 
leave 39 men behind on the island of 
Hispaniola when his flagship, the Santa 
Maria, sank on a reef on Christmas Eve 
in 1492. When he returned a year later, 
with seventeen ships loaded with 
Spaniards eager for the gold they 
believed abounded in "The Indies," they 
found the rotting corpses of their 
massacred countrymen. Columbus's ally, 
the Cacique Guacanagarf, explained as 
best he could — excluding himself from 
any blame: All of the Spaniards who had 
stayed behind, he said, were given 
female companions. This was standard 
procedure among the Tamos and other 
Indian peoples, who appear to have 
known that it improved the gene pool. In 
particular, visiting dignitaries were given 
female companions, which demonstrates 
that the Tamos held the Spanish 
newcomers in high esteem — at first. The 
Spaniards, of course, were not familiar 
with the norms of Tamo society. They 
appear to have assumed, because they 
were given a number of women to enjoy 
sexually, that there were no sexual 
prohibitions at all among their hosts. The 
Spaniards did not know that the women 
wearing naguas were married, or that 
married women were strictly off limits to 
anyone except their husbands. 
Furthermore, the Spaniards appear to 
have made the assumption that the 
Tamos did not value gold, for they traded 
it for "valueless" objects — valueless to the 
Spaniards, that is, but exotic, therefore 
very valuable, to the Tamos. 2 The 
Spaniards also did not know that the most 
unforgivable offense among the Tamos 
was theft. Not content with trading, the 
Spaniards began taking whatever gold 

Dr. Lvnne Guitar- Documenting the Myth of Taino Extinction - 

objects they encountered. Doubtlessly, 
the Spaniards unknowingly committed 
many other social blunders during their 
stay among the Tamos. Exasperated by 

the uncivilized behavior of the Spaniards, 
a group of Tafnos led by the paramount 
cacique Caonabo fixed the problem by 
getting rid of the pests. 

Figure 3 

This statue of Caonabo in chains guards the 
entrance to the third-floor exhibits at the 
Museum of Dominican Man. 

Columbus condemned Caonabo 
for his actions against the 39 Spaniards. 
The cacique died aboard ship, bound for 
a royal trial in Spain. Little did he or the 
other Tafnos know that, like the rats that 
came to the Americas on the Spanish 
ships, there would soon be thousands of 
Spaniards in the region, and Spanish 
laws and mores would soon displace 
those of the Tafno, at least in the public 

My colleague, the American 
archaeologist Kathleen Deagan, 

developed a theory about public and 
domestic spheres which all of my work 
has proven to be true. Everything in the 
public sphere — the chain of public 
leadership and administration, concepts 
of land ownership and land use, law and 
justice, official religious beliefs and 
practices, monetary values — all of those 
areas that had been in the male Tafno 
sphere before the arrival of the 

Spaniards, were replaced by Spanish 
structures and were overseen by Spanish 
males after 1492. But the domestic 
sphere, the female sphere, remained 
overwhelmingly Tafno — or rather Tama, 
the feminine version of the word. 

I don't have time to go into the 
highly controversial and virtually 
unprovable demographics of the 
conquest era, but suffice it to say that, 
compared to the number of Tafnos on the 
island (in the millions), very few 
Spaniards came, and those who did were 
overwhelmingly male. 3 Most of them took 
Tafna sexual partners. Without doubt, 
many Tafnas were unwilling sexual 
partners, but many others married 
Spaniards and formed inter-ethnic 
families. Not only was marriage to Tafnas 
allowed by the Spanish Crown, it was 
encouraged. The Spaniards' wives were 
baptized and took Spanish names; they 
adopted Spanish dress styles; attended 

© 2002, Lynne Guitar 
KACIKE: The Journal of Caribbean Amerindian History and Anthropology 

Dr. Lvnne Guitar- Documenting the Myth of Taino Extinction - 

Spanish churches; lived in Spanish-style 
houses; and to all outward appearances 
became Spanish. But that was the 
outward, public appearance. Inside their 
homes, in the domestic sphere, the 
Tafnas' lives and those of their children 
remained very Tafno. What they ate, how 
it was stored and prepared, child-raising 
practices, home medicinal and religious 
practices, storytelling, the importance of 
song, music, dance, and naming 
patterns — even the concept of who is 
family-all have remained overwhelmingly 
Tafno in the Dominican Republic through 
the present day. 

Let me add that the Spaniards' 
custom of privacy within the home lends 
support to Deagan's thesis of Tafno 
continuance in the domestic sphere. 

In Santo Domingo, which was the 
Spaniards' capital and administrative 
center, Spaniards reproduced their 
homeland's infrastructures and cultural 
patterns as closely as they could. 
Nonetheless, Santo Domingo was a 
frontier city. Even in the public sphere, 
the culture that evolved there was not a 
perfect European replica because of the 
island's unique geography and climate; 
the distance of the colony from the 
Iberian motherland; and the integration of 
Tafno and African beliefs and cultural 
traditions. The Spanish colonists were 
even less successful at replicating their 
European infrastructures and culture in 
the rural villages than they were in the 

Throughout the island's rural towns 
and villages, in the gold mining regions, 
and, later, on the sugar plantations, 
Spaniards were outnumbered by an 
average of six-and-a-half or eight-and-a- 
half to one by Indians, Africans, and 
mixed-blood "others" long after the 
Indians were supposed to have 
disappeared and long before most of the 

African slaves arrived. ("Others" is the 
word used in the island's early 
censuses — terms like "mestizo" and 
"mulatto" did not appear on census 
records until the 1 580s. 4 ) 

In fact, the Spaniards' domination 
of the island of Hispaniola was illusory, 
another myth. Between 1492 and 1510 
they had founded only two cities, fewer 
than twenty small villages, and a dozen 
fortresses in key locations — but that left a 
lot of the island's territory uncontrolled, 
territory where there were no Spaniards 
at all, but for the occasional patrols. In the 
first decade of the 16 th century, Spaniards 
began to leave the island in massive 
numbers seeking gold, pearls, and more 
Indian workers on Puerto Rico, Cuba, the 
islands of the Lesser Antilles, and in 
today's Panama, Venezuela, Colombia, 
Mexico, and Peru. 

The Spaniards who remained on 
Hispaniola began to pull back to regions 
closer to the capital, which was better 
patrolled than the villages, had more 
European conveniences, and from which 
all shipping and commerce was 
conducted — all the things that meant 
civilized life to the Spaniards. As the 
Spaniards pulled back toward Santo 
Domingo, Spain's enemies — the French, 
the Dutch, the Englishh— began to raid the 
less protected peripheries of the island. 
And in those peripheral parts of the island 
lived the maroons, about whom I'm going 
to speak in a moment. 

The year 1510 is significant 
because that's the year that Fray Antonio 
Montesinos was chosen by the 
Dominican Order of friars on the island to 
speak out against the encomienda 
system. They believed it was an abusive 
system that was killing off the Tafnos. 
They wanted to eliminate the encomienda 
system and relocate the Tafnos into 
missionary villages, believing that it would 

© 2002, Lynne Guitar 
KACIKE: The Journal of Caribbean Amerindian History and Anthropology 

Dr. Lvnne Guitar- Documenting the Myth of Taino Extinction - 

improve conversion efforts and halt the 
death toll. Bartolome de las Casas was 
an encomendero until Montesino's 
sermons. He, too, believed that the 
Tamos' massive die-off was due to 
abuses by some encomenderos. He 
spent the balance of his life defending the 
Indians and finally succeeded in getting 
the Royal Crown to outlaw the 
encomienda system throughout the 
Americas in 1547. That did not save the 
Indians, however, for neither they nor the 
Spaniards of the era knew about all the 
microscopic germs and viruses that 
accompanied the Spaniards, their 
animals, and their slaves to the New 

World, a world without the immunities that 
all peoples of the Old World had 
developed throughout thousands of years 
of intercontinental trade. 

Almost all of the standard histories 
claim that the last Tamos of Hispaniola 
were those who rebelled with Cacique 
Enriquillo from 1519-1534. In the first- 
ever treaty made between Amerindians 
and a European crown, Enriquillo and his 
people received their own village, Boya, 
near Azua — a village that was attacked 
several years later by rebellious African 
slaves who burned down the village, 
ing off any inhabitants who did not flee. 

Figure 4 

Statues and drawings of Enriquillo abound in 
the Dominican Republic. He has become the 
tragically heroic, romanticized symbol for "the 

last of his kind." 

The concept of Enriquillo's people 
as the last of the Tamos is very romantic 
and elevates Enriquillo to superhero 
status. Perhaps this is why Dominicans 
today take an ironic pride in the supposed 
fact that it is only on their island that no 
Native Indians survived the Conquest 
Era. But the romantic concept is quite 
contrary to the factual evidence. Today 
we know that most of the Tamos were not 
killed by abuses endured under the 

encomienda system, nor by the sporadic 
wars of the 1490s, nor by the systematic 
massacres ordered by Nicolas de 
Ovando from 1502-1505 that were meant 
to "pacify" the Indians. No. All of these 
contributed to the decline of the native 
population, but most of the Tamos died of 
illnesses like measles and influenza 
because they had no immunities to them, 
and after 1519, of smallpox. In tropical 
areas like Hispaniola, between 80 and 

© 2002, Lynne Guitar 
KACIKE: The Journal of Caribbean Amerindian History and Anthropology 

Dr. Lvnne Guitar- Documenting the Myth of Taino Extinction - 

90% of the Native Indians died of plagues 
that often preceded the actual arrival of 
the Spaniards, for the germs and viruses 
were carried by messengers bearing 
news from plague-ridden areas. An 80- 

Figure 5 

90% loss is a significant and horrifying 
loss. It is so horrifying that it obscures the 
fact that 10 to 20% of the Tamos 

The family of Eugenio Castillo, Villa 
Mella — Tamo inheritance on both sides. 
Eugenio is from the mountains of the 
Cibao, his wife's family from Las Matas 
de Farfan, in the mountains near San 
Juan de la Maguana. 

A re-examination of the documents 
of the era reveals the origins of the myth 
of Tamo extinction: 

• When the chroniclers wrote that all of 
the Indians of Hispaniola were gone, 
they were, in fact, following the lead of 
Las Casas, who exaggerated the 
Tamo population decline in order to 
convince the emperor to abolish the 
encomienda system and, instead, 
establish missionary villages for the 
Indians' conversion. 

• The chroniclers also wrote about the 
Tamos in comparison to the denser 
populations of Native Indians later 
discovered on the Mainland; this is 
especially true about Oviedo, who 
spent his early years in today's 

• The chroniclers were also repeating 
what was written in letter after letter to 
the Royal Court by encomenderos on 

Hispaniola who exaggerated their 
losses in order to gain sympathy and 
royal permission to import more 
African slaves, who were believed to 
be "stronger" than the Tamos because 
they did not fall prey to the diseases 
that decimated the Indians. 

Historians and demographers 
generally use the censuses of the era, 
such as the census that accompanied the 
1514 Repartimiento, to confirm that which 
the chroniclers wrote about the drastic 
decline of the Tamo population. They 
forget that the Tamos fled from the 
Spaniards many years before the famous 
episode concerning Enriquillo and his 
people. Many maroons hid from the 
Spaniards in the mountains of Bahoruco 
and in other peripheral regions of the 
island. Governor Nicolas de Ovando 
himself wrote in 1502 that the Tainos and 
Africans frequently ran away together, 

© 2002, Lynne Guitar 
KACIKE: The Journal of Caribbean Amerindian History and Anthropology 

Dr. Lvnne Guitar- Documenting the Myth of Taino Extinction - 

using the Indians' knowledge of the 
countryside to evade the Spaniards. 

How can you pretend to count 
people for a census who are hiding from 
you? The Spanish censuses, like that of 
1514, are inherently misleading. They 
only account for those Tainos who stayed 
on the Spaniards' encomiendas. 

There is another problem with the 
censuses of the era. They are 
misinterpreted because people were 
categorized in a very different manner in 
the sixteenth century than they are today. 
Hispaniola's residents were generally 
recognized as Spaniards, Indians, or 
African slaves, but a lot of "others" 
appeared on the censuses as well. 
Furthermore, the categories of Spaniard 
or Indian appear to have depended upon 

social factors and the personal judgment 
of the census takers, not on biological 
factors. If a Spaniard and a Tama had a 
child who was raised in the city or a 
European-style town, spoke Castilian, 
was baptized Catholic, wore European 
clothes, received a European education, 
and "acted" Spanish — then he or she was 
listed as Spanish on the censuses. If that 
same child lived in a yucayeque (Tafno 
village), spoke Tamo, practiced Tamo 
religious rituals, dressed as a Tamo, and 
acted Tamo, then he or she was listed on 
the censuses as Indian. That's confusing 
for modern scholars, but it was also 
confusing for the colonial-era census 
takers, who had to try to figure out how to 
categorize people when there were, as 
yet, no fixed standards. 5 

Figure 6 

Sugar-mill workers 
included Indians, 
Africans, Canarians, and 
many mixed-blood 

-Illustration by DeBry. 

There are three extant censuses 
from the first half of the sixteenth century 
that give us an idea of the variety of 
people who lived and worked on 
Hispaniola's sugar plantations. The first of 
the three censuses resulted from a 
lawsuit initiated July 19, 1533, between 
the civil and ecclesiastical councils in 
Santo Domingo. The demographics were 

gathered from a headcount taken in 1530 
on nineteen of Hispaniola's plantations, 
plus a scattering of small sugar estates. 6 
The census enumerated 1,870 African 
workers, most of whom were probably 
slaves, and 427 "Spaniards," most of 
whom were no doubt what you and I 
would call mestizos. Although the legal 
papers pertaining to the case say there 

© 2002, Lynne Guitar 
KACIKE: The Journal of Caribbean Amerindian History and Anthropology 

Dr. Lvnne Guitar- Documenting the Myth of Taino Extinction - 

were "some" Indians working on the 
plantations, the only actual numbers that 
were provided came from five plantations 
on the Rio Nigua that, combined, had 200 
Indians. Such a round number is suspect; 
it was probably an approximation. No 
numbers are provided for the category of 
Indians on the other fourteen plantations, 
just question marks and a total of 700 
unspecified "others." Clearly, no one 
wanted to release the actual rumbers of 

Indians connected to the estates, for the 
plantations' owners had previously written 
letters requesting royal permission to 
bring in African slaves, swearing that all 
of their encomienda Indians were dead. 
Also, there was obvious confusion over 
just how to categorize the workers who 
were free Africans or people of mixed 
blood. As previously mentioned, none of 
the censuses included categories for 
mestizos or mulattos until 1582. 




Indians | 


Others J 

Total | 













1 ,525+? 








Archbishop Alonso de Avila of Santo 
Domingo ordered a census taken to 
determine the number of chapels and 
clergymen required to service the twenty- 
three sugar cane plantations that there 
were on the island of Hispaniola by 1533. 
He reported that there were five 
plantations on the Rio Nigua alone, plus 
several cattle ranches. Altogether, Avila 
wrote that there were "at least" 700 
Africans, 200 Indians (note that this is the 
same suspicious quantity provided in 
1530), and 150 Spaniards who lived and 
worked in the region. 7 For the 23 
ingenios, Avila enumerated 1,880 
Africans, 412 Spaniards, and 200 Indians. 
That is the kind of ratio that other 
historians have cited, with Africans 
outnumbering Spaniards by almost five to 
one after 1520. The problem is that 
historians and demographers nearly 
always use only the quantities in the fixed 
categories and do not mention the 
"others" that the census takers made note 
of, nor the question marks, nor the other 

notes that indicate people outside the 
fixed categories. On his census, Avila 
reported 1 ,525 "others"-820 more 
"others" than in the 1530 count. In letters 
that accompanied the census, he wrote 
that these unspecified persons included 
some Spaniards, Africans, Indians, and 
he also admitted that there had been 
more persons that no one had included in 
the census. He wrote in other letters that 
those whom nobody enumerated were 
mostly Indians. Again, the implication is 
that the number of Indians on Hispaniola 
was being purposely misrepresented and 
that there was confusion over how to 
categorize people who did not fit 
specifically into one or another of the 
clear categories of Spaniard, Indian, or 

Twelve years after Avila's census, 
in a report that the island's governor don 
Alonso de Fuenmayor sent to Emperor 
Charles, there was only one more 
plantation listed on the Rio Nigua, but the 
head count there alone had risen from 

© 2002, Lynne Guitar 
KACIKE: The Journal of Caribbean Amerindian History and Anthropology 

Dr. Lvnne Guitar- Documenting the Myth of Taino Extinction - 

700 Africans to 962, and from 200 Indians 
to 1,212. 8 Fuenmayor reported on a total 
of twenty-nine plantations and trapiches 
("horse-powered mills"). It is notable that 
Africans only outnumbered the 
indigenous workforce on nine of the 
twenty-nine plantations. In total, he 
enumerated a little over 8,952 workers 
(he used the symbol "+" to indicate the 
additional numbers)-43% of them he 
identified as Africans and 57% as Indians. 
Fuenmayor enumerated more than 5,000 
Indian slaves! The quantities listed in his 
report are suspect, of course, because 
they reflect such a dramatic increase in 
Indians over the 1530 and 1533 counts — 
the opposite of what would be expected. 
There are other important differences 
between Fuenmayor's census and those 
of 1530 and 1533. He included among 
the "slaves" of the ingenios all the 
independent farmers that the other 
censuses mentioned separately. 

Furthermore, Fuenmayor did not mention 
any "others," nor did he include question 
marks, nor workers of unspecified 

category— everybody was plunked into 
the category of "African slaves" or "Indian 
slaves." It could be that Fuenmayor, who 
came to his office directly from Spain, 
counted everyone on Hispaniola who had 
the least bit of Indian blood as "Indian," 
without taking into account their 
education, appearance, and behavior, 
whereas locals would classify most of 
them as Spaniards if their education, 
appearance, and behavior were those of 
a Spaniard. It could be that Fuenmayor 
was one of the first peninsulares who 
thought that he and others like him were 
superior by reason of their "pure blood," 
while criollos were thought to be "tainted" 
with Indian blood. (Note that Alonzo 
Lopez de Cerrato repeated the same 
suspicious quantity of "more than 5,000 
Indian slaves" on the island that 
Fuenmayor wrote about in a letter to the 
emperor dated May 23, 1545. 9 Lopez 
was president of Hispaniola's Royal Court 
and became governor of the island after 

Tafnos fled to the peripheral parts of the island, to the 
deserts and mountains. 

Not all of the Tafnos who survived the 
island's initial conquest and settlement 

were "slaves"; some didn't even work for 
or live with the Spaniards. In various legal 

© 2002, Lynne Guitar 
KACIKE: The Journal of Caribbean Amerindian History and Anthropology 

Dr. Lvnne Guitar- Documenting the Myth of Taino Extinction - 

documents of the era, Spaniards testified 
that an uncountable number of Tafnos 
ran away from the Spaniards. Some of 
the maroons left for other islands or the 
mainland. Others hid out in the mountains 
and desert regions of Hispaniola, 
preferring to leave behind their fertile river 
valleys and remain free in less hospitable 
terrain. Remember that by the middle of 
the sixteenth century, the majority of the 
Spaniards had pulled back to Santo 
Domingo and its nearby towns. In 1555, a 
Spanish patrol encountered four villages 
"full of Indians about whom nobody 
previously knew" -one of these villages 
being close to Puerto Plata, on the 
Atlantic Coast; a second one was close 
by; a third village was in the Samana 
peninsula; and, a fourth one was in the 
norteast of the island in Cabo San 
Nicolas. 10 

Apparently, after fifty-some years, 
the Indian maroons had decided they 
could come back to the fertile coasts and 
valleys of the north that the Spaniards 
had abandoned. I doubt very much, 
however, that the inhabitants of those 
four towns full of "Indians" were full- 
blooded Tafnos. Doubtlessly some had 
Spanish fathers and Spanish 
grandfathers, and others had African 
fathers and grandfathers-the same royal 
documents that provide evidence of 
innumerable runaway Tafnos, as well as 
all the documents concerning the 15- 
year-long rebellion of Enriquillo, provide 
evidence that African slaves ran away 
and joined the Indians, learning from 
them how to survive in what was, for 
them, a foreign land. All had contributed 
to what it means today to be Dominican. 

© 2002, Lynne Guitar 
KACIKE: The Journal of Caribbean Amerindian History and Anthropology 

Dr. Lvnne Guitar- Documenting the Myth of Taino Extinction - 

Figure 8 

Tamo survival is readily apparent in the faces of today's Dominicans, both young and 
old, male and female. 

-Photos by Lynne Guitar during research trips August 15-17, 2002. 

Lots of areas still need to be 
researched, many questions about 
identity and ethnic categories need to be 
answered, but I hope that, at least, I have 
been able to clear up the myth of the 
extinction of the Tafnos and the myth that 

all Dominicans and their culture are 
Spanish. Dominicans exhibit a tripartite 

and cultural inheritance: 
indigenous, and African. The 
the superiority of all things 

myth of 

Spanish has its foundations in a history 

© 2002, Lynne Guitar 
KACIKE: The Journal of Caribbean Amerindian History and Anthropology 

Dr. Lvnne Guitar- Documenting the Myth of Taino Extinction - 

that has been distorted over the past 500 
years, the years of the Conquest and the 
ascendance of Europeans to the top of 
the world economic stage. The history 
has been distorted because the historians 

who wrote it were also European 
conquistadors, and they confused 
economic superiority with social and 
cultural superiority. 

Figure 9 

It's time to bury the mistaken 
belief that all the Tamos died. 
—Photo of cemetery at La Isabela 
by Jeanny Wang. 

I hope that you all take advantage 
of speaking with the special guests who 
are with us today, like Roman Perez and 
his family — unfortunately my friend Jorge 
Estevez from the Smithsonian Museum of 
the American Indian could not attend. 
They are Dominicans who live in the 
United States. There they have learned to 

value their indigenous inheritance. They 
can tell you details of their Tamo 
inheritance, things about their culture that 
have survived for more than 2,000 years, 
despite Spanish domination for the past 
500 years — things that form an important 
part of the Dominican culture not just of 
the past, but also of the present. 


Details and references to most topics covered in this paper are available in the author's dissertation, 
Cultural Genesis: Relationships among Indians, Africans, and Spaniards in rural Hispaniola, first half of 
the sixteenth century. Vanderbilt University, 1998. Available from UMI Microform (number 9915091), Ann 
Arbor, Michigan. Complete bibliographic information is available on UMI's Dissertation Abstracts database 
at . 

See Mary Helms, Ulysses' Sail: An Ethnographic Odyssey of Power, Knowledge, and Geographical 
Distance. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1980. 

3 For an excellent review of the "original population" debate, see Noble David Cook, "Disease an the 
Depopulation of Hispaniola, 1492-1518," Colonial Latin American Review 2(1-1), 1993: 213-245. 

The first census in the region with a category for "mestizos" was in Cuba in 1582 — 90 years after the 
Europeans' arrival. Franklin W. Knight, The Caribbean: The Genesis of a Fragmented Nationalism (New 
York: Oxford University Press, 1990), 44-45. 

© 2002, Lynne Guitar 
KACIKE: The Journal of Caribbean Amerindian History and Anthropology 

Dr. Lvnne Guitar- Documenting the Myth of Taino Extinction - 

5 An excellent exploration of how differently "ethnicity" was conceptualized in the sixteenth century than 
it is today is David Eltis, "Ethnicity in the Early Modern Atlantic World," Chapter 9 of The Rise of African 
Slavery in the Americas (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000): 224-306. 

Information from AGI, Justicia 12, N1, R2, as cited in Mira Caballos, El indio Antillano, 155. 

AGI, Justicia 12, 149, ff10v-15; full text of the census available in Jose Luis Saez, ed., La iglesia y el 
esclavo negro en Santo Domingo (Santo Domingo: Patronato de la Ciudad Colonial de Santo Domingo, 
Coleccion Quinto Centenario, 1994), 267-272. 

8 The data is from Luis Joseph Peguero, Historia de la Conquista de la Isla Espahola de Santo Domingo 
trasumptada el aho de 1762: Traducida de la Historia General de las Indias escrita por Antonio de 
Herrera coronista mayor de su Magestad, y de las Indias, y de Castilla; y de otros autores que han 
escrito sobre el particular (Santo Domingo: Publicaciones del Museo de Las Casas Reales, 1975; 
originally published 1763), 217-221. Peguero claims to have had access to the document written by 
Fuenmayor, who began compiling the information when he arrived on Hispaniola for his second term in 
office on Aug 3, 1545; but Peguero does not say how or where he encountered the document, which may 
have been in a private collection. I have not been able to locate it, nor a copy, in the AGI in Seville, 
Archivo General de la Nacion in Santo Domingo, nor in other collections or published sources. Peguero 
noted that Fuenmayor's report took the ingenios' locations and their owners from the 1536 description in 
Gonzalo Fernandez de Oviedo y Valdez's Historia general y natural de las Indias (originally published in 
1535), Book 4, Chp. 8. Oviedo, however, did not list quantities of workers and he had one additional 
ingenio listed, called Yaguate, owned by Francisco de Tapia, that Peguero/Fuenmayor did not mention. 

9 Letter to the crown. AGI, Audiencia de Santo Domingo 49, R16, N101; cited in Mira Caballos, El indio 
antillano, 290. 

10 Consejo de Indias advisory dated July 31, 1556. CDIU, Vol. 18, 10. 

© 2002, Lynne Guitar 
KACIKE: The Journal of Caribbean Amerindian History and Anthropology 

Dr. Lvnne Guitar- Documenting the Myth of Taino Extinction - 


Dr. Lynne Guitar, from the U.S., is an historian 
and anthropologist. She came to the Dominican 
Republic in 1997 with a Fulbright Fellowship to 
finish her doctoral dissertation for Vanderbilt 
University in the United States and decided to stay 
forever. She is a professor at The American 
School of Santo Domingo, co-administrator of the 
company Student Services, administrator of the 
electronic educational program by World 
Classroom "Discovering a New World— The 
Dominican Republic," a co-editor of the Caribbean 
Amerindian Centrelink website, and co-editor of 
their electronic journal Kacike. She is a specialist 
on the culture and history of the Tamos and on 
Hispaniola in the 16 1 century, is a popular speaker 
on these subjects, has published in many academic 
journals and books, and is writing a series of 
historical novels. 
Dra. Lynne Guitar 
Apartado Postal Z-1 1 1 
Zona Colonial 
Santo Domingo 
Republica Dominicana 
Telephone: (809) 937-0421 (809) 396-8270 
Fax: (809) 231-2513 "ATTN: Lynne Guitar" 

Please cite this article as follows: 

Guitar, Lynne (2002). Documenting the Myth 
of Tamo Extinction. KACIKE: The Journal of 
Caribbean Amerindian History and 
Anthropology [On-line Journal], Special Issue, 
Lynne Guitar, Ed. Available at: [Date 
of access: Month Day, Year]. 

© 2002, Lynne Guitar 
KACIKE: The Journal of Caribbean Amerindian History and Anthropology